Balance is a HUGE question mark for parents. Your life just goes from having a gymnast’s flexibility to the amount of space on coach on an airplane. Little people aren’t as patient as adults can be, are fully dependent on us, and give no importance to our schedule. The younger they are, the more of your time they take. When do you finally get to catch up with chores and errands, sleep, or even just take a shower in peace? Probably not today, but one day, I promise.
There are ways for us to reduce this feeling of survival or overwhelm that can wrap us up some days or even every day. We can pair down our items, remove activities from our schedule that don’t add to us, lower our expectations to more realistic current terms, use a planner to organize the to-do list, etc. However, the responsibilities of parenthood still coexist with our other responsibilities, and any other needs and wants. Just because we joined the parent club, doesn’t mean that the whole world stops and our dreams disappear, waiting for our babies to figure out how to feed themselves.
In different talks with executives and successful people, I have heard the question about balance come over and over again. How do we achieve things out of the house without forgetting the house and those living in it, and vice versa? The answer was never the solution I, and I dare say, we, are all expecting to hear. We want a magic potion that will allow everyone to be happy and satisfied. Yet what we get from the experienced involves planning and support from others. The recommendations are that you have to figure out your system, work with your partner, family, and community, be flexible with your hours and get stuff done while the babies are in bed. No pixie dust in sight.
I have understood that our desires just don’t match our resources. We walk into new adventures expecting to fulfill not only ourselves but the people that have come aboard in our life, and have high hopes that it will be possible for us to have it all: the clean house, the tidy children, the made-from-scratch brownies, the passionate marriage, and the corner office. Then reality hits us with our long list of unfinished items and tells us: there are just not enough hours in the day.
Dave Ramsey explained the whole phenomenon in an interview with his daughter. He highlights two things about balance:
- There are seasons of life where you have to focus on a few things. You might be working longer hours and don’t have time to cook from scratch or sit down with each child each day. Investing in your family overall will keep the connection strong.
- Focus on the important things. There are special events that parents do not want to miss, like games and birthdays. Make an appearance but also be present when you are with your family. Quality time makes a lasting impression and builds the relationships.
His focus is on prioritizing. When everything is important, then nothing is important. Identify the things in your life that don’t need to be done by you. Exchange your time and pay for the services that take over your free moments. Nix the items that require maintenance and bring no joy to you or yours. Reduce the appointments on the calendar to make more space for family time. Prioritize what is truly important and give that your time and presence. Busy work is not a smart investment.
Like Dave said, balance every day is not attainable. In a day where you are supposed to work at least eight hours, make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, prep the children, drive them, help them with homework, you can’t also expect to work out, meet with friends, read for an hour, pamper yourself for another hour, and spend quality time with your partner too. I am mentally exhausted just from thinking of that list! Give yourself grace. Make the moments that you have count, because this is what those close to you will remember. Remove the excess in your life so you have more time doing what you love with those you love.